Does the height of the job seeker influence his/her chance of succeeding in IBD recruiting?

Do investment banks judge the the physical appearance of the job seeker when recruiting? I heard rumors that not only some of them do, but they also exclude some applicants because of their height (or weight and other physical traits). Are there physical limits, or standards for potential employees?  For instance, is it true that if a person is shorter than 170 cm or heavier than 120 kg, some banks may, whether explicitly or not, turn down their applications? (Personally I do not think there is any problem with having the physical characteristics that I mentioned and that everyone deserves pride and respect for his or her natural state. It's just that I don't know the reality of the industry concerning this topic.)

Personally, I whole-heartedly wish that such discrimination does not exit in recruitment, but I do not know whether that is true in the IB in London, Hong Kong, or continental Europe (such as in Paris). I don't know if the topic is a taboo, but can someone share some thoughts on this? From the perspective of a job seeker, how should we feel about it?

Comments (42)

  • Teller in Non-profit
Jul 4, 2022 - 1:21pm

Nah 170cm is fine. You'd be fucked if you're 169cm though.

Jul 4, 2022 - 1:27pm
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I see. Are you talking about the states or Europe? Does this vary between countries?

I already know that this is probably the case in Hong Kong banks, lol.

Most Helpful
Jul 4, 2022 - 1:50pm
Sumooooo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Unfortunately, looks and height always matter, height more for men and looks more for women, but also potentially the other way around. However, the question is are those within your control? The answer is actually not "no", but rather "kinda/ it depends".

Nobody can take away your personality, work ethic, academic and extracurricular accomplishments, experience and drive. These things are within your control.

Other things within your control include:

  • Dress well/ good style/ cheap tailoring
  • Good eating and exercise habits
  • Skincare routines
  • Hobbies … etc.

If you do these things within your control (and nobody said they're easy or quick), you can increase your attractiveness over time, sometimes faster than you think. You just need to prioritize and motivate yourself, not even every day but every now and then, and you'll start to see improvements. If you have to the discipline to do it every day then good for you and you'll see results faster.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 4, 2022 - 3:26pm

This is the way I see it; for averages it doesn't matter but for extreme cases (eg really short and/or excessively overweight) it CAN matter. If you're noticeably below average height there's not much you can do, but if you're overweight you should 100% address this…not for ibd recruiting but because it's your fucking health lol. All this being said I have realised that on the buyside people are usually more polished and in decent shape, maybe because they are able to manage their schedules better and can look after themselves. This is more difficult to do when you're an ibd analyst especially if you're in a busy team.

Jul 5, 2022 - 12:45am
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you think that physical appearance still affect a person's promotion opportunities after recruitment? I read from another thread on wso that senior managers tend to look taller than average people. I don't know if that's really the case.

Jul 4, 2022 - 4:23pm
misterfriedchicken2022, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The reality is that looks always matter, especially for client facing roles. Go to the trading floor and meet the junior sales staff, and you'll know what I mean (hint: they do not look like Lloyd Blankfein).

Jul 5, 2022 - 3:23pm
subs1111, what's your opinion? Comment below:
misterfriedchicken2022

The reality is that looks always matter, especially for client facing roles. Go to the trading floor and meet the junior sales staff, and you'll know what I mean (hint: they do not look like Lloyd Blankfein).

Nothing wrong with him tbh. But seriously, are sales people really all that?

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 4, 2022 - 9:07pm

If you're around/above 5'6" you should be fine, anything lower (or in the extreme end) is pretty tough. Ton of short bankers; try to look well groomed and fit. Short is fine; short and fat is not (generally speaking) fine if you're coming in as a junior. 

Jul 5, 2022 - 12:34am
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That does not seem to be a quite harsh standard (still excludes some people though). Not as high as I thought it would be. Thanks for sharing

Funniest
Jul 5, 2022 - 12:13am
ChinaShiII, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm 6'2, 197lb, have a visible six (in reality eight) pack with broad shoulders and am tanned, I'm also blonde with blue eyes. Better luck next life manlets/non-Aryans

Jul 6, 2022 - 3:11pm
WorldEater, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At my BB that is pretty normal you might be a little undersized. My Director is a solid 6'5 245 and shredded. 

Jul 6, 2022 - 7:12pm
ChinaShiII, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Women don't like the over-the-top bodybuilder look. I look more like an elite athlete than some roid-raging social media influencer.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2022 - 2:32am

Yeah being short can be a disadvantage, as it is commonly perceived as being less imposing. And yeah most recruiters are biased towards taller candidates, all other things being equal. But don't let it discourage you, some of the best bankers/investment professionals are short: Schwartzmann from BX, Rubenstein from Carlyle, Kravis from KKR, Blankfein from GS, Michael Bloomberg. None of them is taller than 1.75m (5'9). You can always compensate it by developing charisma and charm, and other relevant soft skills

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2022 - 8:24am

If you're 5'6 you should find a Scandinavian girl who's 6'4+ and let her peg you; your onlyfans will blow up, forget about ib

Jul 5, 2022 - 12:19pm
GoLiftSomeWeightsBro, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dress shoes add an inch or two so if you are 5'6 bare foot its fine. If  below 5'6 it can get really tough unless you compensate by being wide (not a fat sense, but in a muscle bound sense)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 5, 2022 - 4:40pm

Had a short gym lad in my old team and everyone used to call him a pitbull lol

Jul 5, 2022 - 3:19pm
subs1111, what's your opinion? Comment below:

With this recent diversity recruting I think the median height has gone down (by adding more women and different races that in general are a bit shorter), so I doubt it will matter anymore, as much as before at least.

Jul 6, 2022 - 9:14pm
i.can.make.it, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I really do not think height matters all that much, even for sales roles. While I have never seen a midget banker, I know quite a few that a legitimately short and not just average height. 

I think most people would feel terrible for turning away a decent worker because he's 5'2. I am not a very empathetic person, but for some reason that would eat me up inside and the fact I feel this way makes me think that others would too, even those that are more cold blooded when it comes to other things. 

Weight on the other hand is very much a thing. I do not think you would get into banking if you were severely overweight, maybe a little chubby might slide but not over 200lbs. I have never seen it happen unless it happens later in life when you've made fuck you money and your reputation precedes you. When it comes to looks, I'll say very fat people have almost no way of making it into banking. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 7, 2022 - 9:39am

Of course it matters. Your interviewers will likely not make a decision based on appearance, but their subconscious will take in into account to some level. 
 

I wouldn't worry about what you can't change though, if you're smart, nice and presentable,

you'll be fine 

Jul 7, 2022 - 12:51pm
Lester Freamon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone who is pretty short (~5'7), height definitely does factor into things subconsciously for a lot of stuff in life, unfortunately. While it's never really directly impacted me in any material way to my face (aside from crushing my hopes of getting out of my not-quite-fully-gentrified middle class neighborhood through an athletic scholarship), I'm sure there are a minority of folks professionally and socially who take me less seriously or whatever because I'm not tall. 

But here's the thing: I can't control my height and there's plenty of other things that frankly matter a lot more in this context that I DO have control over. So it's more worthwhile to invest time worrying about those than kicking myself over being short. Frankly, even though I'm not tall, most people actually think I'm 5'9 or so because I'm fit and strong, so I don't fit the stereotype most people have about meek, short, brown dudes. Focus on grooming, skin-care, your fitness, etc. so people will take you seriously if you're not a Chad that automatically draws peoples' attention because of his looks.

Also, don't let it come down to the ceterus paribus case (i.e. Candidate A and OP are similarly qualified, but since Candidate A is Chad, we'll go with him since they're otherwise indistinguishable). Make sure the rest of your preparation is rock solid and you won't have to worry about your looks/height impacting your career.

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:10pm
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for sharing! I now understand that it is important to always take good care of oneself so as to improve the appearance and the personal vibe, and there's plenty of reasons for a short candidate not to feel discouraged.

Still, do you think that shorter than a certain limit, height itself becomes a determining factor that would make a person's efforts in other areas meaningless? From your description, I think height is not merely icing on the cake about a candidate, but also it's also far from being one of the most important factors. I don't know if this still holds true in extreme cases.

Jul 7, 2022 - 1:23pm
Lester Freamon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Idk man. I really don't think that height is that important professionally. Steve Schwarzman and Lloyd Blankfein are around my height, but I'm sure most of the people tall people here would kill to be in their shoes. I guess I'm at the lowest end of "acceptable" according to your ranges you've cited ITT, but I don't think it matters that much. Personally, I would rather work with an analyst who is 5'4 and gets his shit done quickly and with high quality over a 6'4 Chad who asks me dumb questions he can Google himself and can't get anything done in a timely manner. I don't think I'm unique in having this preference either.

This isn't the NBA where me being 5'7 means I'm going to naturally be so undersized that I'll have trouble guarding even a college point guard and therefore can't do my job. Results > appearances in the workplace. You could argue that taller people have more executive presence and can sell more, but that isn't something to worry about till way later and there's again more important factors that go into that than being tall. If it were 1:1, then all the male models earning 10K a year doing small time work would get into sales and make a killing while modeling on the side.

Put another way, if someone's a 5'4 or 5'5 guy, I'd be more worried about their dating prospects than their employment prospects. It's already tough for guys of any height and definitely tough for guys my height, but I really can't imagine how shitty my love life were be if I were literally average female height instead of being "tall woman" height.

Jul 7, 2022 - 12:52pm
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Based on current comments, I think perhaps it's safe to conclude the following(?) :

1) Height: 175 cm + is fine while 170 cm (or 5'6'') barefoot is the lowest acceptable height. Any shorter, such as 167 cm or 5'5 barefoot makes it nearly impossible for someone to get hired in an investment bank. Perhaps someone shorter than 5'6 loses about 80%-90% of opportunity in recruitment compared with if he had average height? And diversity recruitment has not comprehensively influenced the industry as a whole today. 

2) Weight: little tolerance for extreme overweight for it's something that can be improved thanks to personal efforts.

Do you guys agree?

Jul 7, 2022 - 10:59pm
Jungle Primate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Guys I am just asking, I don't know if what I mentioned above is true or not. Honestly, I'd feel happy to know that I'm wrong.

  • Associate 2 in PE - Growth
Jul 7, 2022 - 11:39pm

Holy shit these comments are beyond stupid. It's a bunch of college undergrads speculating that banking is somehow like fraternity recruitment. Let's be clear with a few things:

  • Yeah, bias is real. Attractive people are generally perceived to be better liked. If you are atrociously unattractive you might come across as less likeable. Also, if you are very attractive people might be more likely to hire you. Also, attractive people tend to be more confident because others build their self esteem. Sorry if you are learning this for the first time.
  • Past that, there are no stated rules or preferences. "If you are below 5'6, you will have a hard time" is such a bizarrely arbitrary absurd statement. No one gives a shit about your height-if you can interview well, have a killer resume, and know how to play the game you can land a role in IB. It isn't a roller coaster with a height limit. Come on you guys have some common sense. In fact, I would argue the proportion of short bankers is significantly higher than average because they are generally Asian, Indian, or Jewish which tend to be shorter and it seems short guys get less success with women so they commit more to their careers.

Come on you guys, be better than this.

  • Intern in Research - Other
Jul 10, 2022 - 5:16pm

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 10, 2022 - 7:21pm

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